Spring 2015 Newsletter
In This Issue
Summer Details
Program: June 22-July 24

Tours available daily at our six sites: Castilleja, Woodside Priory, Menlo, Sacred Heart, 

St. Matthews and Crystal Springs. Contact Maureen Garrett to schedule.

Upcoming Events

October 22, 6pm
Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club


Parents Advisory Committee

Thank you to our Parents Advisory Committee members who help create awareness in the communities of our independent school partners!

Lisa Bair,  Jennifer Buckley, Tina Crisci, Molly Dillon, Abbie Dorosin, Kirsten Gray, Anne Harrison, Caroline Low, Sarah Ryland, and Cindy Traum

If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Maureen Garrett .


Thank You

to our wonderful mentors who helped our 8th grade Transitions students with the application process to Independent, Parochial, and Charter Schools:

Dina Abarca,  Adam Barea,
Karen Barr, Emilie Brooks, Linda Buiocchi, Donna Carano, Elvia Davila,  Steve and Diana Dohrmann,  Elianne Frenkel-Popell, Jackie Garreau, Kirsten Gray, Gina Grega, Maelen Haugen, May Herr, Becky Hilderbrand, Patrice Lilly,  Lang Liu,   Sharon Lockareff, Katie Marcus, Gina Maya, Maria Picos, Barb Rosston, Julia Roy, Randi Shafton, Maureen Sheinmann, Petra Silton, Jocelyn Swisher, Min Min Tun, Tracy Wang, Ajene White, Laura Woodside, Colina Yip


Peninsula Bridge
PO Box 963
Menlo Park, California 94026
Dear Friends,

Did you know that only 9% of students from low-income backgrounds achieve bachelor's degrees by age 24? There are so many barriers that underserved students face: academic, social, and cultural. With Peninsula Bridge's new 12-year program model, focused on college access and completion, Peninsula Bridge is committed to ensuring that all of our students are prepared for high school and college success. We have had excellent student outcomes in our new pilot programs providing year-round academic and social-emotional support for 6th and 7th graders, high school and college students.

Paula Calamato, our High School Program Director, has been working tirelessly on building out our year-round programming to support high school students in our High School Academy.  She works on a one-on-one basis with high school students and their parents to track student progress and to offer individualized counseling.  Students learn to seek out available school resources, and parents are coached on how to better advocate for their children. Paula and Jean-Marie Buckley of Buckley Education run Saturday workshops monthly to develop study skills, time management skills, advocacy skills, and organizational skills.


The outcomes for the High School Academy have been stellar:

  • 100% of students say they gained a better understanding of college requirements. Also, 90% of students stated they have learned what courses they need to take in High School.
  • 90% of students reported that because of Peninsula Bridge, they know what kinds of tutoring programs are at their schools.
  • 100% of students reported that Peninsula Bridge has taught them special tricks or habits that help them study and manage big projects.
  • 70% of students stated that because of Peninsula Bridge, they are better at standing up for what they believe.

Peninsula Bridge students are consistently defying the odds. They continue to sacrifice, show teamwork, grit, and true character. Recently, an 8th grade student in our Middle School Academy gave advice to fellow students: "Remember you want to go to an Ivy League University and be somebody in life, like a lawyer. Don't let anything or anyone stop you from reaching your full potential. Do lots of community service and discover who you are as a person. These are the most important years of your life. Make them count!" 

 to the generous support of our many supporters and community partners, we have opened up many doorways for our students this year with our year-round middle school, high school, and college programs. We look forward to opening up many more doors for our talented students and families and ensure they succeed on the high school and college path.


 Shafton and Jocelyn Swisher

Co-Executive Directors

Feature Articles
Peninsula Bridge  Receives Google RISE Award!

We are very proud to be one of 37 recipients worldwide of the 2015 Google RISE Award!

Google RISE Awards are grants for

organizations across the globe that:

  • Promote Computer Science (CS) education
  • Run initiatives that reach girls, underrepresented minorities, and students facing socio-economic barriers under age 18

Abby Bouchon shares Googles's vision behind the RISE partnerships:

"As a company started by two students with a curiosity for creating technology, we recognize the role Google can play in exposing youth to computer science. It is critical for students, particularly girls, underrepresented minorities and students of low economic background, to recognize they have the power to not only consume technology - but create it. We're invigorated by the work of the 2015 RISE Award winners and look forward to partnering with them to inspire the next generation of computer scientists around the world."

High School Choice for our Peninsula Bridge 8th Grade Students and Families


This year for the first time, Peninsula Bridge supported 35 8th grade students and families with the independent school and charter high school application process. AJ Tutoring provided test preparation for the ISEE and HSTP tests. Each student attended eight test prep sessions focused on math, language arts, reading comprehension, test taking strategies, and time management. We matched 35 students with mentors. The mentors worked with each student and family with the application process, essay writing, interview strategies, financial aid process, and even accompanied our students on the high school tours. Each independent school provided incredible support to each of our families, including support in the financial aid process, Spanish translation, and organizing special tour days for our Peninsula Bridge families.

Congratulations t
o our 8th grade students and families who worked tirelessly applying to independent schools and charter schools for high school! All 35 of our students and families were incredibly dedicated and committed to the process. 20 students were accepted into private high schools and charter schools: Menlo, Woodside Priory, Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Notre Dame, Eastside College Prep, Mercy, Summit and Everest. We also successfully supported three 5th grade students with the Middle School application process; they were admitted into Menlo, Castilleja ,and Girls Middle School for 6th grade. Thank you to all of our tremendous mentors, school partners and to AJ tutoring for their support and commitment! This was an amazing journey that taught our students and families resilience, grit and commitment.

Digital TaT2: How to Create A Positive Digital Image


In May, over 100 of our 6th and 7th grade students and parents participated in a workshop on seeing and understanding the power and responsibility associated with the digital landscape. The workshop was led by Erica Pelavin and Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet from My Digital TaT2.

workshop focused on how to create a positive digital reputation, one focused on kindness, friendship and respect. The Digital TaT2 team asked the Peninsula Bridge students and parents to focus on: Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? The emphasis was on creating kindness in the digital age and reminding the group that every action can either help create a positive digital image or damage a digital image. The choice is up to each individual to inspire and create positive words and actions on-line. The students and parents both came up with boundaries and rules on the use of technology at home and strategies to focus on being together and creating a positive home culture. In addition, the workshop helped our students and families become critical thinkers in regards to their digital lives. 

Meet Our Students!
Peninsula Bridge students Tanya, Maria Fernanda, and Robert share their unique experiences and perspectives.

What is an adjective you would use to describe Peninsula Bridge?
I would say creative. Peninsula Bridge helps me open my eyes and exposes me to new issues and new friends. It helps me to see the inside of other people.

What are your dreams?
I'd love to attend the design school at Stanford.  I love math and art. An architect uses both math and art to design houses. I am constantly re-designing the rooms in our house. My mom then moves everything back. Also, I am passionate about helping people. My second dream is to become a cancer doctor at Stanford University because you get to help people when they are sick, injured, or most in need. I want to do research and find the cure for cancer because I think it might also solve a lot of the world's problems. Some people do bad things after their family members have died from illness because they are depressed. Finding the cure for cancer would help millions of people.

Describe a day at the Peninsula Bridge Middle School Academy in San Mateo.
I am really enjoying the inquiry projects. We are researching beauty standards and the emotions behind it. There is so much pressure to be beautiful. This inquiry helps me understand my peers better and why they feel so insecure and struggle and the social pressure they feel. I can support them better now and be a better friend.

What is your favorite subject?
Math. Everything has math in it. There are so many daily uses for math.

What advice would you give your friends?
Be yourself.

Who is one of your role models?
My mom. She wants us to do something in the world.

What does Peninsula Bridge do best?
It gets me very prepared for school and has helped me make some great friends.

Tanya is a 7th grader at Borel Middle School in San Mateo. She likes to draw and plays the viola in the Borel band.
Maria Fernanda

What is an adjective you would use to describe Peninsula Bridge?

I would describe Peninsula Bridge as motivational. 

What are your dreams?
My dream is to go to an Ivy League school and study astrophysics or criminal psychology. 

Describe a day at the Peninsula Bridge High School Academy.
A day in Peninsula Bridge feels very bright and the atmosphere at the program encourages you to work hard, but at the same time gives you a chance to interact with your peers and get to know them better. We lift each other up. 

What is your favorite subject?
My favorite subject is science and English/Spanish literature. 

What advice would you give your friends?
One piece of advice I would give to my friends is that if they need help, they shouldn't be afraid to ask for it. If someone doesn't give you the help you need, go ask someone else that you know will help you. 

Who is one of your role models?
My role models are my parents because they came to this country to give me the opportunity to receive a better education, and it motivates me to work hard and succeed. 

What does Peninsula Bridge do best?
Peninsula Bridge does the best to encourage their students to strive towards their goals and provides them with any help they might need along the way.

Maria is a 10th grader at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton and she attends Peninsula Bridge High School Academy. 



What is an adjective you would use to describe Peninsula Bridge?
Bridge is progressive; there's constantly new opportunities to explore all aspects of education and life experiences that will greatly impact today's youth. 

What are your dreams?

I want to be designer but I'm not sure in what sense. I like fashion and digital/graphic art; I hope this could apply to my future career. Ideally, I'd like to be a creative director for marketing clothing, a business, etc. As long as I can be a part of a greater company I'd be satisfied. In the end, I just want art to fuel my everyday life. 

How has the College Mentorship Program impacted you?
This college mentorship program has been wonderful, I felt that without it I'd have a much harder time developing my resume and finding internships. I've already found one almost immediately after working with my mentor! I have been connected to other individuals in my field of study/interest so I hope this program can expand to other students willing to take the next step to building their own networks!

What is your favorite subject?
Art, art history, and social studies within cultures (Chicano, Asian-American, Black Studies)

What advice would you give your friends?
If you really want to make it where you want to be, stay hungry. Don't be discouraged, be open to all opportunities and be creative with what you do with your life.

Who is one of your role models?
I'm inspired by artists mostly, but I greatly respect my professor Richard Ross who works with juvenile youth in fighting injustice in American prison systems. His journalistic work is what pushed my efforts in developing my photography.

What does Peninsula Bridge do best?
Peninsula Bridge connects you with people from your community that actually care about the well-being of their students and alumni. I am glad to talk about my affiliation with the Bridge Program even at UCSB when people ask about me and where I come from.

Robert is a sophomore at UCSB majoring in Art.